Places of Interest around Sigiriya
Sigiriya Elephant Rides
Location : About 100 meters away from Sigiriya
Duration : About 1 hour
Opening : Daylight Hours
Elephant rides are available near the bottom of the Sigiriya Rock. Rides can be of varying duration and usually include an exciting detour into the waters of the lake. This exciting ride usually will last about an hour through land and a lake covered in lilies. It is one of the best ways to get in touch with the wild life, picturesque locations and peaceful setting. This will be a great way to reward yourself after your Sigiriya adventure.
Minneriya National Park
Location : About 41 Km from Sigiriya (Appx 45 minute drive)
Minneriya National Park is located in the Central Province in Sri Lanka. It is about a 45 minute drive (41km) from Sigiriya. The area was designated as a national park on 12 August 1997, having been originally declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. The park is centered around the 249 square km Minneriya Tank (reservoir) built by King Mahasena in the third century AD to irrigate agricultural land around the area. With the collapse of ancient Sri Lankan civilization, the land was abandoned and fell into disuse and was quickly engulfed by forest. The park consists of a mixture of forest, scrub and grassland. Some of the more popular wildlife are: deer, elephants, monkeys, and endangered species such as the Sloth Bear and Leopard. The lake attracts a myriad of wild birds such as cormorants, painted storks and pelicans. The park is also home to the ever present peacocks. The most spectacular event to occur in the park is known as the "Gathering". The best time to see this phenomenon is usually during the dry season (July – September) when water is scarce and animals begin to congregate around the only stable water supply around – the Minneriya Tank. It is a truly spectacular place to see elephants in the wild. Groups of hundreds of elephants congregate around the tank to socialize, bathe, drink and feed.
Location : About 2Km to the North of Sigiriya
Visit : 1 to 2 Hours
Climb : 40 – 60 minutes to reach the top
Opening : 8.30 AM to 5.30 PM
Pidurangala is a massive rock formation located a few kilometers north of Sigiriya. This site too has an interesting history closely related to Sigiriya. Whilst Pidurangala appears larger than Sigiriya; its upper surface is steeply sloped and is of solid rock. For this reason it was not suitable for large-scale building activity. The rocky outcrops that surround the central rock give one an indication of what the area around Sigiriya may have looked like prior to its clearing and preparation as a royal citadel. The area has been occupied on and off for over two thousand years by monks who lived in the caves around the site. It really came into the fore when King Kasyapa (477- 495 AD), moved monks living around Sigiriya to a newly refurbished and enlarged monastery here.
Hot Air Ballooning
Flight Time : Approx 1 Hour
If you visit the beautiful Royal Kingdom of Sigiriya, then you should take the opportunity to see the wondrous sights from the air. Few can resist a bird’s eye view of dramatic landscapes, a drift over thick jungle canopies and the thrill and serenity of a hot air balloon flight. November to April is the best time to soar over Sri Lanka’s spectacular countryside and gaze down upon villages and wildlife as the rising sun brings to life the landscape with vibrant shades of color. Flying over the jungle you may see elephants roaming freely, water buffaloes standing in the paddy fields and monkeys swinging from the trees.
Enjoy the picturesque landscape at sunrise, as nature awakens to the first rays of the sun and to your planned 60 (approx.) minute flight. Breathe in the wide-open spaces, the panoramic views, nature & the spectacular landmarks.
Bullock Cart Ride
Bullock cart was the first vehicle in Sri Lanka. A bullock cart is a two-wheeled vehicle pulled by Oxen or Buffaloes. It is a means of transportation used since ancient times in many parts of the world. They are still used today, mainly in rural areas where modern vehicles are too expensive or the infrastructure does not favor them. In the past, it was once a famous mode of transportation of local loyalty. Experience the real traditional Sri Lankan rural village style, where you will travel in a Bullock cart to a rural village through lush green paddy fields.
Polonnaruwa – 2nd Ancient Kingdom of Sri Lanka
Location : Approx 45 minutes from Sigiriya
Polonnaruwa remains as the second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms. Polonnaruwa is also the second largest city in North Central Province, but it is known as one of the cleanest and more beautiful cities in the country. The green environment, amazing ancient constructions, Parakrama Samudra (a huge lake built in 1200), and attractive sites and hospitable people, attract tourists. The ancient city of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Today the ancient city of Polonnaruwa remains one of the best planned archaeological relic sites in the country, standing testimony to the discipline and greatness of the Kingdom's first rulers.
Anuradhapuraya – Ancient Kingdom and Capital of Sri Lanka
Location : Approx 1 Hour from Sigiriya
Anuradhapura is the capital city of North Central Province and one of the most important ancient capitals of Sri Lanka. It is famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Sri Lankan civilization. Also it is believed that from the fourth century BC until the beginning of the 11th century AD it was the capital of the Sinhalese. During this period it remained one of the most stable and durable centers of political power and urban life in South Asia. The ancient city, considered sacred to the Buddhist world, is today surrounded by monasteries covering an area of over sixteen square miles (40 km²).
The city had some of the most complex irrigation systems of the ancient world, situated in the dry zone of the country the administration built many tanks to irrigate the land. Most of these tanks still survive.
The city also contains a sacred Bo-Tree which is said to date back to the year 245 BC, is considered to be the pinnacle of Buddhist philosophy. Anuradhapura is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka.
Location : Approx 30 minutes (24Km) from Sigiriya
Opening Hours: 7.30 AM to 7.00 PM
Visit : 2-3 Hours
Dambulla temple, also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla is the largest and best preserved cave temple in Sri Lanka. It has been a fully functioning temple since its inception over two thousand years ago. There are more than 80 documented caves in the surrounding area. Major attractions are spread over five caves, which contain statues and paintings. These paintings and statues are related to Lord Gautama Buddha and his life. The beauty of the cave temple is its setting into five huge caverns high on a mountainside. Inside are 153 Buddha statues in various reposes, three statues of ancient kings, and four other statues including those of Vishnu and Ganesh.
The ceiling and walls have been painted and repainted over the centuries by the resident monks and contain some interesting juxtapose of imagery including those of royal life.
The Dambulla cave monastery is still functional and remains the best-preserved ancient edifice in Sri Lanka. Today, Dambulla cave temple is a World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka.
Wilpattu National Park
Location : Approx 2h 50minutes (128.5Km) from Sigiriya
Wilpattu National park is located in the Northwest coast lowland dry zone of Sri Lanka. It is among the oldest and most important of protected areas in Sri Lanka. It also contains a number of important cultural sites. The sanctuary lies inland from the coast and is entirely within Northern Province. The unique feature of this park is the existence of "Willus" (Natural lakes) - Natural, sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater. The park is 131, 693 hectares and ranges from 0 to 152 meters above sea level. Nearly sixty lakes and tanks are found spread throughout the area. Wilpattu is the largest and one of the oldest National Parks in Sri Lanka and it is among the top national parks world-renowned for its leopard population. The park is home to some 31 species of mammals including elephant, sloth bear, leopard and water buffalo, spotted deer, mongoose, mouse and shrew. The best time to visit Wilpattu is during the months of February and October. There are a few private eco-tourism groups that show tourists around the park in Safari like trips.
Kaudulla National Park
Location : Approx 1h 10 minutes (43.9Km) from Sigiriya
Kaudulla is a National Park located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. The park spreads over an area of 6,900 hectares. Historically Kaudulla was one of the 16 irrigation tanks built by King Mahasen. Following a period of abandonment it was reconstructed in 1959. It was designated a national park on April 1, 2002 becoming the 15th such area on the island. Along with Minneriya and Girithale, BirdLife International has identified Kaudulla as an Important Bird Area. It now attracts and supports a variety of plant and animal life, including large mammals, fish and reptiles. The faunal species recorded in the park include 24 species of mammals, 25 species of reptiles, 26 species of fish, and 160 species of bird. Sri Lankan sambar deer, Sri Lankan axis deer, chevrotain, wild boar, Sri Lankan leopard, and sloth bear are other mammals found in the park. Kaudulla National Park is also one of the sites in which the gray slender loris is reportedly found in Sri Lanka. Following the discovery of a two-month-old albino Sri Lankan axis deer calf abandoned by her mother, it is supposed that Kaudulla is probably the only national park in Sri Lanka to have albino axis deer.
Location : Approx 1 hour (50Km) away from Sigiriya
Ritigala is an ancient Buddhist monastery and mountain in northern Sri Lanka. Its range consists of four peaks. The mountain of 600 meters above the surrounding plains is the highest mountain in northern Sri Lanka. One of mysterious aspect is the belief of powerful medicinal herbs found near the crest. A herb called “Sansevi” is believed to have the power of conferring long life and curing all human pain. According to legend, all vegetation on Ritigala is protected by Yakkas, the guardian spirits of the mountain. The term "Yakka" denotes super human beings worthy of respect. The ruins of Ritigala monastery covering 59 acres are located on the eastern side of the mountain. With the exception of a few broken granite Buddha statues in a number of caves, Ritigala has none of the traditional icons of Buddhist temples. Monks who lived here devoted themselves to extreme austerity in search of supreme enlistment.